Haunted House Expects Thousands Of Visitors


Practicing their ghoulish routines Payson High School Drama Club students get ready to scare any and all who enter the Haunted House in the Ox Bow Saloon on Historic Main Street, Monday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Practicing their ghoulish routines Payson High School Drama Club students get ready to scare any and all who enter the Haunted House in the Ox Bow Saloon on Historic Main Street, Monday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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On Halloween Monday night the Ox Bow Haunted House will attempt to spook thousands of guests while helping the community.

Hosted by the Longhorn Theatre and the Town of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) Department, guests will experience seven rooms, each with a different zombie theme.

“There will be two levels of scariness. Scary and not scary for the little kids,” said Kathy Siler, Payson High School drama director/educator.

In addition to the Haunted House, Main Street from South McLane to Oak will close to traffic for a block party complete with a stage and a DJ. There will be a Trunk or Treat event for adults and children along with the Haunted House.

“The Trunk or Treat is geared toward 12 and under while the haunted house attracts teens and adults,” said Deb Jones from the PRT Department.

The Haunted House will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to the Haunted House is $3 or $2 with a can of food.

Started as a fund-raiser for the town’s PRT Department and the Longhorn Theatre, this year marks the third year of the Haunted House. Proceeds aid operational costs for the drama department and PRT throughout the year. With the added bonus of canned donations, local area food banks get a huge boost.

“The event will feed local families for a week,” said Siler.

Students from the high school drama department have put monstrous amounts of effort into decorating the Ox Bow with spider webs, strobe lights, skeletons, spiders, sets and props. Because of the time and organization involved, the major production allows students the chance to put it on their resumé for career development.

They’ll use their makeup skills to look convincingly zombie-like and tailor costumes and sets from the Longhorn Theatre.

Siler relies heavily on the students to make the show successful.

Andrew Kofile and Cody Schuler are co-captains for the event.

To practice real-world skills, both students had to apply for the job and go through an interview process. Once hired, they in turn had to hire captains for each room delegating responsibility to make sure no detail gets overlooked.

Every group has scared up a little vignette for each room.

“Ms. Siler is hands off. You (the students) get to decide theme and layout,” said Kofile.

The students and staff always have the guest’s best interest and safety in mind. At no time will any guest feel the touch of an actor.

The fire marshal makes sure all exits remain available and materials used won’t start on fire. And, there’s an exit plan for those who just don’t care for zombies.

“If a kid freaks out, an actor will escort them out,” said Kofile.

The seven rooms will show a zombie hospital, zombie room of macabre mirrors, a zombie room of doom, a zombie wall room, a zombie mob, a zombie graveyard and a zombie Pride and Prejudice room. Tours last from 20 to 30 minutes.

Parking will be available off of McLane Road, in the open field facing the Humane Society of Central Arizona.

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